RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Each night thousands of young people go to sleep on the street without a parent or guardian.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness said on a single night in 2019, more than 35,000 youths were homeless. That is a figure that’s likely higher during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You’ve likely driven by them, homeless encampments on the side of the road.
At one camp off Capital Boulevard by Interstate-540, CBS 17 met a man named JT. After losing his job and apartment, the camp became his home. He said about 20 people live there.
Amirah Saintyl has seen it before. She’s an Operations Coordinator with Haven House Services.
“It really increased the issues we were already experiencing with homelessness,” Saintyl said of the pandemic.
CBS 17 couldn’t find statistics for teens specifically. The Raleigh Rescue Mission said more than 6,000 people seek homeless services each year. Homelessness is increasing 8% a year.
“They experienced job loss, they experienced issues with child care. It’s just been a slew of issues,” Saintyl said.
Haven House Services runs Wrenn House on Morgan Street. It’s the only shelter in the Triangle specifically for those 10- to 17-years-old.
“We maintained the ability to stay open, but we were conscientious about how we were going to accept youth,” Jackie Sapaugh, an assistant operations coordinator with Haven House Services said. “They’re literally staying in a tent or they’re staying in their vehicle. And they’re facing challenges like it’s hard to get a job if you don’t have an address but it’s hard to get an address if you don’t have a job.”
In the last couple of months, Haven House Services used COVID-19 relief funding to buy a van. It’s stocked with the basics and allows them to help teens where they are.
“The van is really exciting for us,” Sapaugh said.
Prior to that they had backpacks and couldn’t carry nearly as many supplies.
“We can go more places and start to build rapport,” she said.
Haven House Services has 11 different programs aimed at helping youth.